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Former industrial towns with higher unemployment were found to be lonelier, while affluent and older populations were less likely to experience high levels of lockdown loneliness.
Furthermore, high streets with good local businesses were found to make a positive difference. Urban areas, particularly those with declining industries, and higher rates of unemployment and crime, were all factors which made people more vulnerable to loneliness.
The study found a particularly strong link during the pandemic between joblessness and loneliness in towns and cities outside London.
The ONS warned that levels of ‘often or always’ lonely are double the national average in places including Blackburn, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, North Lincolnshire, Corby, Mansfield, Tameside and Wycombe.
Other protective factors against loneliness include having strong local businesses, and access to adult education - with these helping people to stay connected and keep in touch.
The study grouped together areas such as ‘London cosmopolitan’ and ‘ethnically-diverse metropolitan living’, and found these to be less likely to be lonely than poorer, post-industrial towns - but more lonely than wealthier or rural locations.
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